43 de la Gauchetiere E.
Metro: Place d’Armes
Bus: STM 55, 80, 129, 150, 410, 427, 430, 435, 747
Visit: July 12, 2012
My half-Chinese heritage demands that I scour the island for each and every restaurant that does my native cuisine justice. My purpose for my visit to Mon Nan is not to show what everybody already knows, but to shed light on another aspect that doesn’t get too much play. There are some pretty decent, well-known restaurants in Montreal where you can get lunch for well under 10 dollars and Mon Nan is one of them.
Nearly each Friday, I make my way to Chinatown for my weekly dose of won ton soup. Along the way, there is a sign that always hits me smack in the face. It’s a poster of Mon Nan’s specials. It touts more than 25 choices where you would pay $6.10 before other fees of course. With that, you get fried rice, an egg roll, and a won ton soup. My curiosity in this deal was brought forth and I just had to see if it was really worth it.
Now, the unique thing about Mon Nan is the fact that it shares the same entrance as Tong Sing, a Dim Sum place. So, a person has to make sure that they do not enter the wrong restaurant. So, in this picture, you are headed towards the left.
If you are confused, Buddha has provided you with some signage to make sure you do not lose your way. Isn’t that nice of him?
The daily lunch special, which does not apply on holidays, starts from 11:00 a.m. and goes all the way until 3:00 p.m. Those are very reasonable hours in Montreal. This takes full advantage of the big offices nearby and the many tourists who are here at this time of year. With the prices in play, it provides a really good alternative to the fast food places at Complexe Guy-Favreau and at the Palais des Congres. Also, with the vast amount of choices, you can easily come here daily without having the same main dish twice.
I entered the restaurant a few minutes after opening and found that I was the only one there. I attributed this to the fact that Dim Sum was in full swing and that most lunch breaks started a little later on. As the time passed, a few more tables started to come in, which means that it’s not an unknown thing. The service was assured by two waiters, who both were quite cordial and communicated in both official languages.
Lunch Menu - Front
Lunch Menu - Back
Won Ton Soup
The meal starts off with a won ton soup and an egg roll. I wasn’t expecting too much out of the won ton soup, since I was pretty sure that it would be a mix of pork and shrimp, which aren’t my favorite fillings when they’re together.
The soup broth itself was a little watery, but for me, they kept the dumplings warm. Whenever I go for won ton, the soup rarely gets consumed. With the way it looks, you’d assumed that you were eating at a buffet or at a Tiki Ming. Luckily, that’s where the comparison stops.
The won ton dumplings itself started saving the show. The casing was thicker than what I would have preferred, but it was still soft enough to eat easily. Though, the tails of the dumplings had to be taken off first before getting to the main filling.
The filling, as I mentioned before, wasn’t my favorite going in, as I’m an all-shrimp kind of won ton eater. This one actually surprised me. You could easily taste the shrimp component, despite there being a good amount of pork. My issue with pork filled won tons is the fact that they don’t go down as easy as shrimp won tons. This particular won ton went down easy and was pretty satisfying compared to past experiences.
This is your standard egg roll. What bothered me about this was the filling. It was a tad too tough and chewy. I realized that egg roll fillings are supposed to require some chewing, but this was a little too tough. The shell was acceptable, as it was crispy. I wasn’t going to judge my whole experience on an egg roll, since what I came for was coming up next. What irks me is that the best egg rolls I ever had were from take-out.
Sweet and Sour Sauce
This was provided on every single table when coming in. There is nothing much to say about this, since I’m pretty sure everyone has had this at least once in their life.
Shrimp in Lobster Sauce
This was the dish that attracted me to come try the special. I have a long history with lobster sauce. You can get this with most Cantonese lobsters that you order at any Chinese restaurant that offer the dish. What I discovered last year is that there is a dish that incorporates the sauce with shrimp.
I’m not going to say much about this because I was thoroughly satisfied by the dish itself, which was well worth the money I paid for the entire meal. What I will share is my strategy for eating this. The moment I saw the pile of rice next to the lobster sauce, I knew exactly what I had to do. Using my chop sticks, I started mixing in the rice with the sauce. Once that was accomplished, I had a combination of rice and shrimp in lobster sauce. Like that, it combines two of my favorite uses of lobster sauce. If only I could find a way to bring in lobster. That’s a problem for another day.
In all, there are four separate items here for a whopping 7 dollars including taxes. There aren’t very many other places on the island of Montreal that can offer you so much for such a decent price. What you’ll get here is good food, attentive service, and a lunch that shouldn’t take a lot of time.